While David Roth was entertaining himself by not watching Game 2 of the Warriors/Jazz series, I was amongst those held captive last night in an outdoor ampitheatre surrounded by big box retailers, watching 3 American rock’n'roll bands of varying degrees of repute.
Sandwiched between the very respectable Love As Laughter (who are visually and musically unrecognizable from the time they had the misfortune of sharing a bill with the Air Traffic Controllers in 1998) and shockingly impressive Modest Marr (who showed the difference between mere entertainment and transcendence might just be a matter of adding the right iconic sideman — but enough about Magic Andy, that elderly guitarist from Manchester is no slouch, either) were a group I humbly submit as the Worst Of 2007. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Man Man.
To call Man Man’s cloy, contrived and feckless display of grunts, snorts and do’s and don’t's column “wackiness” an affront to adult society is to give them far too much credit. We’re regularly assaulted by artists who rely on gestures rather than content, but last night’s performance was a new low in hack-suckery. Minutes after the set, Don Van Vliet had his do-not-resuscitate papers signed and registered, for fear he might someday be cited as an influence. Hours afterwards, plans were put in place for a summer package tour featuring Man Man, the reformed Primus, Fishbone and at least one token “conscious” rap artist (are Arrested Development available, with or without the zillion year old guy?). If necessary, a token pop/punk artist with fewer idiosyncracies than Tim Duncan can be added to the bottom of the bill (paging What Made Milwaukee Famous).
At the risk of coming off like even more of a dust-covered old fuck than usual, there’s more grit, invention and genuine insanity in the 3 minues of Spike In Vain’s “EKG” than Man Man’s half dozen members could muster during the longest 30 minutes of my life. To paraphase Dice Clay as Ford Fairlaine, they’re raping rock and killing roll. Or perhaps that was killing rock and raping roll. Either way, these guys are bad fucking news.